Dragon Quest Swords is an example of taking a popular, if complex, RPG series and attempting to make it appeal to a new breed of gamers. With almost all of the famous RPG series' depth and storyline removed, what's left is a motion-controlled linear adventure that's lacking ideas and soon becomes pretty tiresome.
You play as a self-named 16-year-old adventurer who starts the game by setting out on a quest to confirm his status as a man. Even though this is completed with relative ease, all isn't well in the kingdom. Prince Anlace is worried about the Queen as she's refusing to see guests. Soon enough she's missing, apparently wandering around alone and wearing a mysterious mask. The game's story centres on this mystery, which unfortunately isn't all that engaging.
Other than the main town in which you live, the game is a series of linear paths (with the odd choice of direction) that pit you against familiar enemies from the Dragon Quest series, before you encounter an end of stage boss. The entire game is played using the Wii Remote (the Nunchuck isn't supported), with the B button used for moving forward, the d-pad for slight camera control and Wii Remote slashes for your sword attacks. The game recognises side slices, diagonal slices and vertical slices, as well as a jab forward.
It's handy that these are the main attacks as enemies approach in rigid formations, allowing you to perform slice combinations to the take them all out. Defensively you've got a shield that you can use by holding B, which displays a transparent shield on the screen. Moved by pointing at the screen with the Wii Remote, enemy attacks are fairly easy to block due to on-screen markers that appear prior to attacks. Alternatively, certain projectile attacks can be deflected back by a well-timed sword slice.
Your ultimate attack comes from your Master Strokes, which can be performed when your attack gauge hits 100 per cent. Pressing the 2 button on the Wii Remote initiates these special attacks (you earn more as you progress through the game) which require you to perform a few actions like raising the sword in the air or swinging it around while held aloft. Successfully complete these actions and you perform a powerful strike - moves which are more than helpful during boss battles.
You're not alone on your adventures, with your father, a French woman named Fleurette and Prince Anlace able to join you. Although you might think this means a party system of sorts, you're only ever allowed to adventure with one ally, and their involvement in battle is minimal at best. They never attack with swords, instead focussing on spell casting. You can set their battle tactics, but I wasn't able to find a tactic that worked.
Straight out attack often caused them to die too quickly, while a command to heal often resulted in them doing not much at all. A combination of the two resulted in the AI being incapable of working out how best to deal with the situation. Although the game has almost none of the options you'd find in a traditional RPG, you can instruct allies to cast a spell at a certain time. Basic RPG staples like levelling and equipment upgrades are also present, but at a very basic level.
Visually Dragon Quest Swords has its moments, but for the most part it lacks flare. Trundling along narrow paths that don't even allow you to survey the area means the game feels far more enclosed than it looks, and the script and voice acting often feels at odds with the stylised Japanese visuals. In parts the game looks up to par with the best we've seen on Nintendo's system, but these sections are rare.
As an introduction to RPGs Dragon Quest Swords might find an audience, but anyone hoping it will be a proper entry in the hugely popular series will be severely disappointed. The storyline is shallow, the gameplay is basic and the visuals are a little too bland. One for series die-hards and completists only.